Thursday, January 26, 2006

"For though it was day, to her surprise they all went back to bed."

Okay, so the Burns Supper, as you may recall from my post about it last year, is a Scottish event held in honour of their most famous poet, Robert Burns. The last three years our Tokushima celebration of the same has been held at the Highway Oasis in Miyoshi. The standard fare is first potluck, initiated by the reading of Burns' Address to a Haggis. Of course the resident Scots do their best to track down some real haggis to be had at the party. This year we have only one Scot, Ellie, and she did a wonderful job planning and organising the party this year. She managed to scare up some haggis from New Zealand, both a real one and a vegetarian imitation. While by Ellie's own admission haggis is not the easiest food to like, and she herself is not a fan, the haggis she got from NZ was delicious. Both the vegetarian and bona fide varieties were tasty.

Once people have engorged themselves enough to want little more than sitting around and relaxing, the poetry stage began. To quote Ellie's blog:

Highlights included Katie doing the opener to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' with a torch under her chin, Joe in his Utilikilt doing some horribly verbose nonsense he found on the net (and hamming it up to perfection), Dan doing 'Yellow Submarine' in Spanish, Nate doing 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' in it's entirety, Dave's funny, smarmy definitive limericks, and all the Miyoshi-gunners doing another round of '500 Miles' a la the Xmas Carol Tour. There wasn't much Burns going round (maybe another one or two after our Haggis effort), but that was ok, as Burns is pretty hard to understand, and hard to read as well.

I read four poems, only one of which I wrote myself. I'll tack them on at the end of this post for anyone who may find themselves interested.

During the course of the evening there is a toast to the lasses by one of the lads, and all the lads drink to it, and then there is a reply toast from one of the lasses, which all the lasses drink to. At the point where people are contented with the poetry and many are sleepy enough to go home or to bed in their cabin, or drunk enough to want to do something more rowdy, the poem reading time was drawn to a close, and people went and did whatever they wanted. Mattias, the German CIR in Naruto has kindly put up a bunch of his photos from the evening.

I hung out and chatted and played games until about two, and made my way to bed in my cabin. I was one of the first people up, waking at nine. But everyone else was soon to follow, as we had to vacate the premises by ten in the morning.
Right next to the cabins is one of my favorite onsens in Tokushima-ken. Most everyone headed there in short order. I've been trying to think of why I like 美濃田温泉 minoda onsen so much, and while it's true that it has great medicinal baths, both a steam sauna and regular sauna, as well as 露天風呂 outdoor baths and a wonderful view, these may not be the main reasons I like it so much. The Burns supper each of these last three years has been such a good time, and I have gone to the onsen all three years, that I cannot help but think that positive association makes me like it more. And my most memorable experience there was the morning before one performance of the musical two years ago when it had snowed heavily the night before. Standing there looking out over the Yoshino river surrounded in newly fallen snow and then sitting in the baths soaking away all stress and weariness was a defining moment of my first year. So yeah.

After that I had the pleasure of driving four gorgeous ladies the two hours back to Tokushima. There was bowling happening with church folk in the evening, so I had a couple of hours to kill in the city. Lunch was scored in the following manner:

"Is there a Mos Burger around here?"
"No, you have to go back to the 55 for that."
"Well. I don't suppose there is a Rotten Ronnie's around here?"
"Rotten Ronnie's?"
"You know, The Ol' Choke and Puke."
"Choke and Puke?"
"McDicks, Rotten Ronnie's, you know, McDonald's, Ronald McDonald?"
"Oh, um yeah there's a McDonald's around here."

We both speak English, but obviously we weren't speaking the same language. Now, I think that "The Ol' Choke and Puke" comes out of Morden or Winkler Manitoba, but aren't the rest rather well known? Anyways, after Choke&Puke food was aquisitioned, some of LOTR ROT SpEd was watched, but not quite half, so now I need to ask if I can borrow it to finish. Alas, it is not rentable here.

Bowling was fun. Despite my normal poorish score of 90 something, my mind was out of phase with the rest of the stuff around me, so I didn't really pay it any mind. In fact, I barely knew I was playing, having to be reminded almost every time that it was my turn. Blame it on the onsen: I had spent two hours there that morning rather than the usual one, so I must have been overly relaxed. Then we went for Italian, and as an added bonus, some of us were able to follow Italian with karaoke, which I love. Ron had a friend up from Oz, and wanted to take him out, Tomo will be leaving us really soon for school in Oz ( : _ ; ) so it was one of her last chances. Add Jenna and Tracey who are city JET (equivalent to karaoke fiends) and myself and we had enough to make for two lively fun hours of singing.

On monday my voice was rough, as was to be expected, but it was rough with more than just singing. On Tuesday the teachers were telling me again that I looked sallow, and that night I got proper sick. Proper sick is for me indicated well by my dreams. Clarity gets lost and they become a blur of the same thing over and over again, some visual representation of my illness. Elements of racing, crazy night travel on forest roads sided my wide wide rivers with massive metropolises on the opposite sides, and some crazy competition of hundreds or thousands of people all being narrowed down, and there were four different tactics (which all somehow reminded me of phlegm) that kept being reused and recycled through hundreds upon hundreds of matches. And I woke up several times to go to the can, which though only two rooms away would leave me shivering like jello in an earthquake by the time I got back to bed. So obviously I had some fever to go with my mountains of phlegm. Aren't you glad I just took the time to tell you all that?

Wednesday made for a perfectly miserable day at elementary, with me barely able to conduct classes, but somehow I made it through. I had already cancelled one day of elementary do to sickness this month, and I didn't feel as ill this time as on that occasion, so I couldn't justify calling in sick. I had to go into Komatsushima to return DVDs, and Hideki had invited me out for yakitori that night near there. Figuring that I probably wouldn't bring myself to preparing food in that state, I went. When I arrived, the others were all really surprised, saying the colour of my face was really bad. But after two hours of sitting in a really warm room and chowing down a lot of chicken, a good deal of salad, and some rice and other things, I was feeling a little better. At the end of the evening, they said my face looked a much healthier colour. That night, my fever broke and I woke up in what felt like a pool of sweat. Glad I had been wearing long sleeved and legged pajamas, I peeled them off and dried myself with a towel and crawled back into bed. On Thursday I was still sickish, but with just a head cold and none of the overall miserableness or dizziness. Today at least one teacher has asked me if I was on the road to recovery, with a funny pause in the middle as though she was going to ask if I was all better. (However, my voice is all low and Sylvester Stallone-y with phlegm.)

So on with the poetry!

By me, after my first bout with sickness this month:

so sick I was
and there in bed
I held my gut
and hung my head

this illness does
depression bring
along with more
unpleasant things

thankíng the Lord
for warméd seats
my mind reviewed
what did I eat

was it school lunch
or last night's enkai?
in future avoid
suspicious sazae

or perhaps those eggs
which did my fast break
are what now cause
my bowels to ache

the doctor says
food's not to blame
but the common cold
of Japanese fame

nausea, fever
the runs, pains, and chills
need more to feel better
than just a few pills

ten pocari sweats
and three days of sleep later
I'm ready to wrestle
a live alligator

and from this experience
what have I gained?
ten pounds and four ounces
and my shoulder is sprained

if ever a cold
in japan you should catch
look not for me
I'll be gone in a flash

A quote from The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne,
which I made look like poetry so I could justify reading,
and which caused several of the hearers to release a surprisingly sorrowful short moan:

they resolved to go back
to their own land

because the years
after all
have a kind of emptiness
when we spend too many of them

on a foreign shore"

if we do return we find that
the native air
has lost its invigorating quality

and that
has shifted its reality
to the spot
where we have deemed ourselves

only temporary residents

between two countries
we have none at all"

by Emily Dickinson:

A death-blow is a life-blow to some
Who, till they died, did not alive become;
Who, had they lived, had died, but when
They died, vitality begun.

By JRR Tolkien, from The Fellowship of the Ring,
the song Frodo is singing when he betrays himself at Bree,
falling off of the table and the Ring falling onto his finger.
I have long wanted to be at an event where this was performed,
so I took that chance and read it myself.

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he runs his bow,
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there's good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there's a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced,
and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
"The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master's been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun'll be rising soon!"

So the cat on his fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
"It's after three!" he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her suprise
they all went back to bed.


At 10:31 p.m. PST, Blogger Ellie said...

Hey thanks for the favourable review! But I have to inform you, the haggis came all the way from Mothern Scotland this year. I hauled it all the way back in my suitcase! Last year, I ORDERED the haggis from New Zealand, but for all I know, it's still languishing in customs at Narita airport! :) Glad you have such nice memories of the Burns Night, that makes me really happy.


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